mossy fences long forgotten

There was a time when this fence belonged to a beloved piece of farmland.  Imagine my sweet Hampstead, sixty years ago, before the government of the day in their infinite wisdom decided to expropriate the surrounding farms for a militia training ground. Once a thriving community complete with several general stores, a post office, school, train station, dance hall and an operating river ferry is now home to a handful of families still living here full time. An entire way of life wiped out to make way for the future. Now decades later the whole world is starting to understand and value the contribution our farmers make to the quality of our lives. Happily, further up river there are several farmers raising cattle and chickens. Closer to Gagetown  stunning apple orchards grow along the riverbank.and in the opposite direction, a few miles down river, another family has a huge fruit and vegetable farm. Nothing like it was in the 1950’s but one family at a time…

After dinner, Ralph and I love to walk along the river exploring abandoned farmhouses and barns trying to find their stories long ago forgotten…

When we arrived at the farm this summer, I found some oak-leaf lettuce that had self seeded in my herb garden. When your greens are this precious, they need to be dressed lightly and savoured! My salad was nothing more than the tender greens drizzled with a tangy buttermilk dressing.

Buttermilk Dressing
Makes 1 cup

2 teaspoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons dried dill
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitted lid.
Shake well and it’s ready to serve.
Will keep refrigerated up to one week.

THE LOVE: I rarely taste as I cook. This salad dressing is an exception. Make sure you like the taste. If not, decrease the dry mustard and dill. I like a zippy taste

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I don’t want to leave you with the impression that we grazed on lettuce then went out exploring. My husband couldn’t make it to the mailbox on a plate of lettuce! Our salad was the side to some leftover barbecued chicken and a fabulous new sweet potato dish. Well, fabby if you like sweet potato, salty bacon and cheddar cheese – I know – what’s not to like!

If that old barn could talk, the stories she would tell!

Hasselback Sweet Potato with Bacon and Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven 375*F

1 sweet potato per person
1 slice of bacon per potato
A handful of grated cheddar cheese per person

Wash and dry sweet potatoes
Slice sweet potato in ½ inch intervals but not all the way through – it should look like an accordion
Using sharp scissors, slice bacon in as many pieces as you have openings on the potato
Slide bacon pieces into openings, using a thin pairing knife.
Place potatoes in oven for 40 minutes.
Remove from oven then sprinkle with grated cheddar
Place back in oven and continue baking an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve.

THE LOVE: Serve with a big dollop of thick sour cream!

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one year ago: pea shoots and quinoa salad pita pockets

two years ago: seared scallops with pistachio cream

Thanks for reading.

  • Penny Wolfe

    The sweet potatoes look delish! While I feel bacon could (should!) be it’s own food group, my poor hubby cannot eat bacon. I may try this with prosciutto instead. I never had sweet potatoes growing up. First time I had one I was in my late thirties. I feel like I missed out! It’s like the candy of the vegetable world. One of my favourites to make!

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful shots Michelle. We were at our property yesterday in Hamptstead and I agree, the stories would be amazing. My sister and I love the history 🙂

  • Tanya

    Gorgeous post Michelle! I can’t wait to try the sweet potato recipe! YUM! Sweet potatoes are a staple at our house….Our farm is bursting with flowers and lovely greens growing now too…we have a lovely old barn that I know has many stories to tell….this should be the summer we get together!!